World Interaction Design Day 2019, IxDA Delhi NCR
Key highlights of the event and my views on trust and responsibility in design.
About World Interaction Design Day (IXDD)
“World Interaction Design Day is an annual event where IxDA comes together as a united global community to show how interaction design improves the human condition. The aim of this global initiative is to have a positive, long-lasting impact by facilitating activities that support dialogue and outcomes.” — https://interactiondesignday.org/
About the event
24th September was celebrated at the World Interaction Design Day with over 100 events across 40 countries. We at IxDA Delhi NCR hosted an event around the theme, Trust and Responsibility in partnership with Adobe and IxDA.
Adobe India graciously accepted to sponsor the event and hosted it at its iconic, colorful building in Sector 25A, Noida.
To deep dive into the theme and share their perspectives, we were joined by 3 speakers: Nishita Gill (Founder of Treemouse), Himanshu Khanna (Founder and CEO of Sparklin) and Akanksha Singh (Principal Design Manager at Expedia).
Vinay Dixit, Head of Experience Design at Adobe India, joined us virtually to welcome participants and speakers. He shared his point of view on the topic and discussed how design teams at Adobe keep ethics at the center of problem-solving.
The event comprised of engaging presentations and conversations ranging from responsibilities of designers, methods for practicing ethical designs and encouraging meaningful consumption of digital products to industry best practices.
“The speakers were really amazing and the interaction with them at the end made it great.” — Vishant
“…Intellectual honesty revisited..” — Veetrag
Trust and Responsibility in design
At this day and age of build and fail fast product development cycles, it has become imperative for the professional design community to be responsible and provide counsel for designing interactions that build trust.
We as designers are increasingly wanting a seat at the table, to be at the center of product development and influence the UX from the word go. Now that we have got that(well almost), we have to do justice to it. With power comes great responsibility. We have to make sure we don’t make unethical decisions for full-filling short term business goals by keeping our heads down and just concentrating on delivering designs. We cannot afford to miss out on the long term consequences of our design decisions and give more weight to the marketing-centric engagement metrics.
A lot of such unethical decisions show in a variety of dark patterns used in digital design. Using patronizing language like “I’m okay losing out on insurance” on un-checking pre-selected insurance products and hiding additional costs till the very last step of payment are a couple of very common but unethical patterns prevalent today.
Drawing the line between influencing and manipulation
There is a very fine line between influencing and manipulation. Persuading people to help them achieve their goal is influencing, however persuading them to do something they don’t want to do is manipulation. Both of them might be legal, however only one of them is ethical (no points for guessing which)!
For example, helping a user book a ticket quickly and safely using a clear visual hierarchy of actions, transparent warnings, and terms and conditions is ethical, however coercing them into buying travel insurance by using dark patterns like pre-selecting insurance in checkout and using patronizing language if they opt-out, is certainly not.
It’s our duty as designers to actively look out for our users and refrain from using our design influence to manipulate them (sometimes even at the cost of our business.)
Enter emerging technologies and data-driven brands
Emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Voice, Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR &VR), etc. have made decision making even more complex by blurring the lines between human and computer interaction. We have become ever more reliant on digital products. And as brands become more and more data-driven, our job of designing for data transparency has become more important than ever. One of the ways to achieve this is by putting users in control of their data at all times. Asking them for explicit permissions (opt-in and opt-out actions) and informing them about related implications will go a long way in making them trust our brand even more. With episodes like the ones involving Cambridge Analytica, the trust of people in digital products is reducing. Our users want to know how our brand intends to access and process their data. It’s our job to voice their concerns in our closed room meetings and account for privacy early in our design process.
Claire Berrett talks in-depth about Mubaloo’s GPR framework in a brilliant article here: https://uxdesign.cc/what-does-gdpr-mean-for-ux-9b5ecbc51a43
Here’s a free cookie banner XD UI kit by IxDA: https://interactiondesignday.org/resources/?mc_cid=6e03e87990&mc_eid=e3e98aba50#educational-resources
So, what can we do about it?
Here are a few things I believe can help us do better:
- The argument of having an oath of ethics by Mike Monteiro in his book Ruined by Design (can’t recommend this book enough) is a strong and valid one.
“Community breeds standards; standards breed accountability; accountability breeds trust; licensure validates that trust…”
Mike also mentions “veil of ignorance” a framework by an American philosopher John Rawls in his book “A theory of justice”.
“..in short, a veil of ignorance is a way of determining whether what you’re designing, be it a startup, a dinner plan, or a system of government, is just. It’s very simple: when designing something, imagine that your relationship to that system gets determined after you have made it.”
Frameworks like this will help us take an outside view of our solutions and remove our biases.
- Choose UX centric metrics for calculating success in addition to the existing marketing ones. For example, care about task success rate, ease of use, error rate, etc. in addition to the likes of clicks, page views, cost per conversion.
- We designers un/knowingly bring our own biases into everything we design. Hence we must be aware of our biases and undertake measures that decrease their negative effect. Ask questions like “If I would be in place of the user, would I be okay being subjected to this experience/system?”
- Create genuine personas (free from framing bias) and do thorough user testing. Whatever design process we might undertake, we should find opportunities to test and get feedback on our solutions before releasing them into the wild. This will help us flag our oversights and iterate designs for the better.
- Last but not least, learn to say no and ask “why” more often.
“Our job is to be advocates for people who aren’t in the room.” — Mike Monteiro, Ruined by Design
Key Highlights from talks
Here are some of my key takeaways from each talk and some personal thoughts:
“Trust and Responsibility in marketplace” by Akanksha Singh
With her experience of working at Expedia, Akanksha shared some examples and best practices to gain the trust of users in an e-commerce setting using small product interventions:
- Encouraging the customers to share information transparently but at the same time being responsible for handling that data and leaving that data control in the customer’s hands.
- Using social proof to establish credibility among strangers and giving visibility to users with positive outreach.
- Using consistent design language.
She also highlighted the importance for a marketplace product to build trust with its supply partners. Interventions like providing real-time feedback and shared goals help Expedia build trust.
In the end, she deep-dived into some key design techniques used by Expedia to build trust with their audience:
- Using a consistent visual language and a tone of voice across channels and devices.
- Being transparent about critical information upfront and collaborating with their suppliers, etc.
“Revolutions are Invisible” by Nishita Gill
Nishita shared her experiences from implementing a well-rounded marketing strategy around customers’ perceptions and values. By giving examples from various case studies from Treemouse, she shared how her agency works with the clients to ensure they understand their customers and in turn enable them to build trust and relationships with their clients for long-term sustainable outputs.
For example, for their work “Meri Pehli Electric” for Hero Electric, she explained how treemouse built campaigns to position electric bikes for their audience by building a vocabulary that the client and their customers could relate to, easily adopt, nurture and strengthen over time, thereby influencing people to adopt electric vehicles.
Driving mass revolutions for marketing strategies needs to be beyond the skills of the designer, thought into the bonds, relationships that are being created with and beyond the asset. Those that need to be nurtured for a true impact.
“When you’re driving behaviour change for the user, let’s not forget its for the client as well.” — #gyaankibaat by Nishita
“The need for responsible design” by Himanshu Khanna
Himanshu gave us a much needed, hard-hitting talk about the need for responsible design. From his favorite villain “Thanos” and his villainy to bringing us to a starting point for a possible oath, I enjoyed this one.
His version of a possible oath for designers comprised of Rigour (acting with skill and being aware of implications of research on the work of people), Respect (ensuring our engagement is lawful and equally respects animals and our natural environment), and Responsibility (partaking in discussions for the betterment of design as a profession and not knowingly misleading).🔥
It’s always great to learn from examples. Himanshu presented a plethora of contrasting ones to discuss the nuances of responsible design. From notorious ones like the PR stunt of “Its toasted” for the Lucky Strike cigarettes campaign showcased in the Mad Men drama series to the likes of Apple Watch that are saving lives, he had them all covered.
Another thing that caught my attention was his reference to “The three fundamental motivators” by David McClelland — the need for achievement, the need for affiliation, and the need for power.
A designer’s code of Ethics by Mike Monteiro: https://muledesign.com/2017/07/a-designers-code-of-ethics
For those who made it to the event, thank you 🙏🏻 for taking the time to join us and participate in the discussions. We hope to see you around in future events and meetups soon.
For those who couldn’t, don’t fret, there will be plenty more in the future. We look forward to hosting you. 😃
“If you didn’t come to the event, take my word, and attend a talk that any one of them is giving in the future. You’ll not regret it” — Keshav
“It was such happiness to connect to a passionate bunch there to share and learn at the same time!” — Akanksha
About the IxDA-Delhi NCR team
IxDA Delhi NCR is a local chapter for IxDA for the Delhi NCR region of India co-lead by Somya Hastekar and me as co-leads. We are looking for volunteers to join us and make this local chapter truly by and for the community.
If you are from Delhi NCR and interested in joining the team, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter at @ixdadelhincr.
A special thank you to Tania Jain and Deepika Verma for proofreading and editing this article. 🙏